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Students and community members prepare for holiday concert

Some members of the Jamestown High School choir practice Handel’s Messiah in preparation for a joint performance on Dec. 18 with participants from the University of Jamestown and the Jamestown community. Keith Norman / The Sun

High school activities don’t often mix together students and adults in the community. One exception is the upcoming joint production of Handel’s Messiah by the Jamestown High School choir and Orchestra and about 60 members of the community.

“The performance brings the high school and the community together,” said Karlie Paiement, a senior in the choir. “It shows that we (the students) are part of the community as well.”

Cheryl McIntyre, director of the choir, and Jennifer Michalenko, orchestra director, are putting together this year’s performance. A joint production involving community members and high school students is performed every other year, McIntyre said. This year the production will include about 200 performers including 120 high school students, about 20 University of Jamestown students and 60 community members.

McIntyre said performing Handel’s Messiah every other year allows students to participate twice during their high school years.

“I was a freshman participant but that was a long time ago,” said Alivia Hoke, a junior at Jamestown High School and one of the soloists in the performance. “It is special because people of all ages in the community come together.”

The second production of Handel’s Messiah during the student’s high school career is also a chance to provide leadership to the younger students and even to the community members involved, McIntyre said.

Students have a variety of reasons for participating in the production.

Abby Olson, a senior, said it was a chance to grow in faith but also called Handel’s Messiah a “fun piece that is very challenging to sing.”

“It is cool that Mrs. McIntyre allows us to perform this kind of music,” she said.

Handel’s Messiah was first performed in 1742. The joint production by Jamestown High School and community singers has been going on for about 20 years, McIntyre said.

“It is one of the classic pieces and that makes it special,” Olson said.

Junior Tegan Hillstrom said he remembered his participation in the Messiah as overwhelming as a freshman.

“It is a group effort that comes together,” he said. “It makes us better as a whole.”

McIntyre said the program is also used as a tool to show students that singing or performing in an orchestra doesn’t have to be limited to school years.

“It can be a lifelong process of music,” she said. “The oldest community member participating this year is 85.”

Jamestown High School students have been practicing one hour per school day and on Sundays with the community participants.

The performance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, in the Jamestown High School auditorium. The high school orchestra and choir will also perform other holiday-related numbers. A freewill offering will be taken with the proceeds split between the Jamestown High School Music Department and the Anne Carlsen Center for Children.

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